Gregory A. Fox, 54; business executive, community leader

Business executive and community leader Greg Fox died Feb. 16.

BY Robert A. Cohn, Editor-in-Chief Emeritus

Gregory A. Fox, a business executive, community leader and generous philanthropist, died Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2016, after a four-year battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 54. Family members said Mr. Fox died peacefully, surrounded by his family.

Mr. Fox spent nearly 30 years at Harbour Group, the operating company founded by his father. After working in several management positions, he rose to the position of group president, responsible for several of the company’s lines of business.

Mr. Fox was known to love his work, not only because it was constantly changing, but because it afforded him the opportunity to work with different management teams.

One of Mr. Fox’s associates said, “Greg loved teamwork and was by nature a team player — modest, unassuming and reflexive in his willingness to credit others for success. Those characteristics, combined with an ability to be tactfully straightforward, earned him both the respect and affection of his colleagues.”

Mr. Fox was also an active leader in various civic and philanthropic organizations and causes. Twice, for a total of six years, he served as board president of the Community School. He also served on the boards of Barnes-Jewish Hospital, BJC Healthcare, the Center of Contemporary Arts (COCA), Logos School, Mary Institute and St. Louis Country Day School (MICDS), Congregation Shaare Emeth, Junior Achievement, Westwood Country Club and Kids Under Twenty-One.

Mr. Fox was born in St. Louis on Oct. 27, 1961, the son of Sam and Marilyn Widman Fox. He grew up in St. Louis and was a graduate of Ladue Horton Watkins High School. He earned a bachelor of arts degree at the University of Colorado. 

He then spent two years working for NCR Corp. in California before joining Harbour Group in 1986. After two years at Harbour, he resumed his education at the Olin Business School at Washington University, where he earned his MBA in 1990.He became a strong supporter of the school and was presented in 2011 with its Distinguished Alumnus Award. 

In addition to his work and civic activities, Mr. Fox loved the outdoors, especially hunting and fishing, and he had a particular fondness for Colorado. He always said that “more than anything” he enjoyed spending time with his family and friends.

Funeral services for Mr. Fox were held last Thursday at Share Emeth, where Rabbi Jim Bennett and Cantor Seth Warner, along with Rabbi Emeritus Jeffrey Stiffman, officiated. More than 1,000 people filled the sanctuary for the service.

In his eulogy, Bennett compared Mr. Fox to the Lamed Vov, the 36 Just Men upon whom the world reposes. 

“Indistinguishable from simple mortals, often they are unaware of their station,” Bennett said. “But if just one of them were lacking, the sufferings of mankind would poison even the souls of the newborn, and humanity would suffocate with a single cry.

“I’d like to believe, though none of us can ever know for certain, that perhaps Greg Fox was one of those righteous ones. We have gathered here, in this assembly of kovod, of honor, to pay tribute to one of the most remarkably kind, generous and heroic people any of us has ever known.”

Bennett and other speakers, including all of his surviving siblings, his wife, and Manne Palan, a dear friend since childhood, expressed admiration for the brave way Mr. Fox faced his pancreatic cancer, beating it back at least four times before he lost his battle with the disease. Even in his final months, Mr. Fox was said to always be concerned about the well-being of his family members and friends and did not want to be looked at with pity. 

Burial was at the Beth Hamedrosh Hadodol Cemetery on Ladue Road.

Survivors include his wife of more than 25 years, Merle Cotlar Fox; four children, Matthew, Peter, Megan and Eli; his parents, Sam and Marilyn Widman Fox; two sisters, Cheri Fox and Pamela Claman (Aba), both of Israel; and two brothers, Jeff Fox (Lotta) and Steve Fox (Nancy), both of St. Louis.

Donations are preferred to the charity of the donor’s choice or to the Foundation for Barnes-Jewish Hospital, earmarked to the Fox Family Pancreatic Research Fund, 100l Highlands Plaza Drive West, Suite 140, St. Louis, Mo. 63110.